I chose the University of Waterloo for my undergrad because it had one of the only co-op programs in Political Science and because it had a program, at the time called Applied Studies, which allowed me to explore my interests in a variety of subjects, while taking less courses in my major. I particularly enjoyed courses that allowed me to learn about other cultures. After graduating in 2001, I spent about five weeks traveling around Western Europe.
My co-op positions allowed me to bridge into a full time job with the Government of Canada, requiring a move to Ottawa. I worked as a Trade Policy Analyst for Public Works and Government Services Canada, then as a Senior Trade Policy Analyst with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, negotiating the Government Procurement Chapter of the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement.
It was in Ottawa that I met and married my husband, Anthony Rizk, a fellow UWaterloo Alumnus. I also earned my MA in Political Economy at Carleton University and had two beautiful girls. After ten years in Ottawa, my husband and I decided we needed a change and moved to Cupertino, California. The move turned out to be a good one, and once it was clear that we wanted to stay in California, I gave up my position with the Government of Canada.
In January 2015, my husband and I started talking about taking a trip around the world as a family. After doing some research and speaking to my daughters' doctors and school, we decided to go for it. I researched, planned and booked the trip myself using services such as Airtreks, Airbnb and Expedia.
We spent six months (Sep. 1, 2015 - Mar. 1, 2016) traveling around ten countries in five continents. Our journey took us through Peru, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Italy! I made the trip nature- and culture-oriented and tried to balance the interests of all family members.
Our trip was perfect for my eldest daughter, Hannah, particularly from an educational perspective. She has Selective Mutism, meaning that school causes her such anxiety that she cannot speak in the classroom. By traveling with her family, Hannah gained a lot of first-hand knowledge in a less stressful environment. My youngest one, Amy, turned six on the trip, and although the travels were a bit much for her at times, she always bounced back.
This trip has taught my girls to be adaptable to new people, places and situations. It reminded me of my co-op years at UWaterloo when I had to adapt to new colleagues, classmates, roommates and cities. It also reinforced my belief that a lot of education happens outside the classroom, something UWaterloo understands and fosters. I know that should my daughters choose a UWaterloo co-op program in the future, they will be very well prepared!
To read more about our trip go to: http://natureadventurersblog.com/